Lot 101: MARTIN CHAMBI (1891-1973) A remarkable suite of 50 scarce medium-format photographs of Cuzco, Peru.
October 25, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
MARTIN CHAMBI (1891-1973)
A remarkable suite of 50 scarce medium-format photographs of Cuzco, Peru. With occupational scenes (including fisherman on Lake Titicaca); studies of native people in Puno; multiple views of Machu Picchu (including overviews and stone details); ruins in the towns of Tambomachay, Ceolccampata, and Pisac (pre-historic archeological sites associated with the Incan empire); exterior and interior details of cathedrals in Cuzco; and more. Silver prints, the images measuring 9x6 1/2 inches (22.9x16.5 cm.), and the reverse, the mounts 9x13 inches (22.9x33 cm.), the prints are mounted recto only; several with numeric notations in the negative and each with a caption, in ink, in Spanish, on mount recto; 4 also with Chambi's hand stamp on mount recto. With the original oblong leather folio-sized covers, with the gilt-lettered title Cusco [sic]; contents disbound. 1920s
This group of compelling photographs reflect Chambi's eye for detail and accomplished technical range. Chambi, whose work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York from March 23–May 3, 1979, had a commercial studio in Cuzco, and was a popular portrait photographer who produced carte-postale prints. However, the scenes in this album were created in the field and are medium-format prints.
According to Richard Pilnick, who wrote about Chambi's work for B&W Magazine: "Upon deciding to pursue a career in photography, Chambi moved to the city of Arequipa in 1908, where he apprenticed at the studio of well-known commercial photographer Max T. Vargas. By 1917 Chambi began working independently, living and establishing his first successful studio in Sicuani. Around 1920 he settled in Cuzco and became much in demand as a society and portrait photographer for that city's more affluent classes. Using Cuzco as a base, Chambi photographed extensively throughout the southern Andes, recording landscapes, Inca ruins and the lives of the indigenous peoples of the Andean region."
The photographs highlight indigenous people in their homes and environments. There are multiple views of the remote and extraordinary pre-historic site Machu Picchu and other archeological temples, as well as dramatic geological features of the landscape, and architectural and ecclesiastical imagery associated with Colonial cathedrals.
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